Humanitarian evaluation capacities
For over 10 years ALNAP has been involved in research to find out how the humanitarian system can benefit from evaluations and how barriers to utilising evaluation findings can be overcome.
We have seen a significant increase in the quality and quantity of humanitarian evaluations (see ALNAP’s Evaluative Reports Database) and most major organisations in the sector now carry out their own evaluations. We have also seen a significant amount of learning that has taken place within organisations as to the best way to commission, carry-out and follow-up on evaluations.
However, despite this, it has become clear that opportunities to maximise benefit from evaluations are not always taken ('The Utilisation of Evaluations' in ALNAP's RHA 2005 by Peta Sandison).
Significant evaluation expertise resides within the organisations that make up ALNAP’s Membership, and there is considerable untapped potential for cross-organisational learning in this area.
Strengthening humanitarian evaluation capacities
In line with these findings, the aim of this new ALNAP project is to create a ‘space’ in which the membership can come together to learn from each other about how to strengthen humanitarian evaluations, and plan ways to improve their utilisation of evaluation findings. The project brings organisations together to discuss the challenges to achieving real change in evaluation and how these can be overcome.
- Promoting an exchange within the ALNAP membership on current evaluation practices and organisational dynamics that affect our understanding and use of evaluation.
- Experimenting with an appreciative and peer learning methodology to launch a Community of Practice to discuss evaluation capacity issues – through online and face-to-face interactions among evaluators and evaluation users.
ALNAP is currently developing an evaluation capacities framework. It will help organisations to identify priorities, share ideas across the aid evaluation community and develop new strategies for tackling longstanding challenges.
The evaluation capacities framework highlights four capacity areas:
- Leadership, culture and structure
- Evaluation purpose and policy
- Evaluation processes and systems
- Supporting processes and mechanisms
What has been done so far?
ALNAP Working Paper
In 2011 ALNAP published a Working Paper and launched an initiative to improve understanding and use of evaluation, as well as strengthening evaluation capacities in humanitarian organisations. The result is a framework that contextualises wider evaluation literature to the specifics of humanitarian evaluation.
The ALNAP Working Paper Harnessing the Power of Evaluation in Humanitarian Action: An initiative to improve understanding and use of evaluation (June 2011, by Alistair Hallam) builds on the experiences and successes of ALNAP Members in integrating evaluative evidence into programme design and makes suggestions as to how organisations can build their ability to use evaluations. It is part of a concerted attempt on the part of ALNAP Members to build their capacity to learn from evaluations. An initial workshop was held in September 2010.
Initiative to improve understanding and use of evaluations
In 2011, ALNAP produced a self-assessment tool, which allows organisations to assess their capacity to conduct and use evaluations. This tool has formed the basis for a series of workshops.
Workshop participants were invited to share their learning about ‘what works’ in building evaluation capacities, and created action plans to address capacity gaps. ALNAP is working to support organisations in the implementation of these action plans.
What lies ahead?
ALNAP ‘Evaluation capacities - community of practice’: face-to-face and online
This new ALNAP community of practice (CoP) draws on the wealth of evaluation experience within the ALNAP Network. Conventional programme evaluation is increasingly being complemented by other issues, such as accountability mechanisms, new institutional learning tools, change management processes and a focus on leadership. Our hope is for this CoP to capture overlapping themes and to ultimately be able to identify the factors which contribute to positive change.
Updating the evaluation capacities framework
This will follow a process of engaging with ALNAP Members and garnering their experience to feed into the new framework. The findings will then be fed back to and discussed with senior management staff and decision-makers.
Facilitating a new series of evaluators peer-to-peer evaluation capacities short meeting in different humanitarian hubs in Europe and North America (details will be provided as soon as they become available)
How can I get involved?
If you are an ALNAP Member you can join our online Evaluation capacities - community of practice!
This ALNAP Community of Practice (CoP) - a combination of online and face-to-face discussions - aims to explore the different ways in which humanitarian evaluation professionals develop capacities to more effectively establish, use and learn from evaluation.
We plan to use CoP members’ contributions to develop guidance on strengthening the four identified evaluation capacity areas.
The CoP functions as a closed ‘discussion room’ for ALNAP Members moderated by the Secretariat. Please contact Franziska to receive further details and instructions on how to join.
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